Movie Review: Bohemian Rhapsody 

PG-13 | 2h 14min 

Director: Bryan Singer

Stars: Rami MalekLucy BoyntonGwilym Lee

by Jason Koenigsberg

One of the most notoriously troubled productions of recent years finally hits the big screen. The Queen biopic entitled Bohemian Rhapsody has had a long and very public journey getting made with re-writes, lead actor changes, and director Bryan Singer fired midway through production after sexual misconduct allegations. When the trailers first premiered over the summer, they showed a lot of promise with the musical numbers and Rami Malek’s uncanny resemblance to the late great Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. The trailer did not lie. The musical performances onscreen are impossible not to enjoy since the songs they are illustrating are timeless classics, and Malek does justice to Mercury in a more than adequate performance. Unfortunately other than that, the finished product has all of the telltale signs of a bad production and nothing else about Bohemian Rhapsody works and in fact, it is offensive and shameful with how it deals with Mercury’s sexuality. 

The film opens up with the 20th Century Fox logo with some guitar effects to it making it stand out from the usual fanfare accompanying the logo. Then the first shot is a hand, it tilts up a bed to an eye and the audience learns that it is Freddie Mercury waking up the morning he is getting ready for the big Live AID concert in the summer of 1985. Bohemian Rhapsody looks great. Crisp, clear cinematography with its high production value. The filmmakers also make great use of the Queen catalog which they had full access to so the music is great and there are parts the audience may want to just sit back and listen to the movie. Not enough praise can be given to Rami Malek. Best known as the star of Mr. Robot on USA network he is ready to transition to feature film roles and does more than an impression of Freddie Mercury, he embodies the lead singer of Queen in a way that it is hard to imagine Sacha Baron Cohen who was originally cast or any other actor in the role. One would just wish that his talent was not wasted in such a superficial movie. 

Bohemian Rhapsody spends a lot of time on the music of Queen, which is good, and a lot of time on Freddie Mercury’s sexuality which is patronizing at first but later becomes absolutely shameful. This movie made homosexuality seem dirty and sinful and the cause of Freddie Mercury’s death. Yes, it is common knowledge that Mercury died of AIDS but this film portrays his sexual desires as criminal acts. The fact that director Bryan Singer was fired from this film for allegedly making sexual advances on another man, makes the homophobia factor stand out. This is a Queen biopic the Religious Right would love. It has great rock music and an anti-gay message a lot of the viewers in red states could get behind. 

As mentioned before and as seen in every trailer, the music scenes in Bohemian Rhapsody are rather spectacular in the live concert reenactments. It is a pleasure to watch the visualizations of the genesis of classic Queen singles. Those are the best moments on Bohemian Rhapsody. The film follows the standard music biopic liner notes. There is no signature vision that makes Bohemian Rhapsody special, probably because the director was fired halfway through and the rest of the film was compiled in a director by focus groups committee. The sly stunt casting of Mike Myers as a curmudgeonly record producer critical of the song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ turns out to be an inspired choice considering that songs significance in his hit movie Wayne’s World (1992). The movie was also factually inaccurate with the chronology of Freddy Mercury and his AIDS diagnosis, it happened after the Live AID concert, not before it. The scene where he candidly opens up to his bandmates about his disease is the most made-for-television moment of the film. Bohemian Rhapsody has some moments to savor but falls into the formulaic biopic rigamarole and the way it treats homosexuality is downright offensive making Freddie Mercury out to be what he specifically states in the movie he does not want to be, the poster boy for AIDS and safe sex

As mentioned before and as seen in every trailer, the music scenes in Bohemian Rhapsody are rather spectacular in the live concert reenactments. It is a pleasure to watch the visualizations of the genesis of classic Queen singles. Those are the best moments on Bohemian Rhapsody. The film follows the standard music biopic liner notes. There is no signature vision that makes Bohemian Rhapsody special, probably because the director was fired halfway through and the rest of the film was compiled in a director by focus groups committee. The sly stunt casting of Mike Myers as a curmudgeonly record producer critical of the song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ turns out to be an inspired choice considering that songs significance in his hit movie Wayne’s World (1992). The movie was also factually inaccurate with the chronology of Freddy Mercury and his AIDS diagnosis, it happened after the Live AID concert, not before it. The scene where he candidly opens up to his bandmates about his disease is the most made-for-television moment of the film. Bohemian Rhapsody has some moments to savor but falls into the formulaic biopic rigamarole and the way it treats homosexuality is downright offensive making Freddie Mercury out to be what he specifically states in the movie he does not want to be, the poster boy for AIDS and safe sex

Skip Bohemian Rhapsody and read the Queen Wikipedia page, or the Freddie Mercury Wikipedia page if you prefer, and just watch Queen Live at Wembley Stadium below instead. 

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